It is time to mark another year off the books. I can hardly believe that 2018 is over. As I reflect on this past year’s events, I wonder if progress was made, if we lost ground or is it something in between.
My view of the industry is that not a lot of progress was made. The same battles were fought, the same complaints were voiced and the industry, as a whole, seems to continue in a state of flux. For instance, Relocatable Power Taps (RPTs) seem to be a hot topic again. We have taken a step back in allowing or not allowing these to be used in hospitals, even though there isn’t clear data regarding the problems they cause.
At the latest conferences, I heard technicians who feel underappreciated and under paid. They feel misunderstood by the administration and helpless to control their own destinies. I have always felt that we are participants in our own lives. We have the power to change it and control how we respond. We can give more than what is expected, we can promote ourselves every day and never be satisfied by just doing our assigned job.
OEMs continue to do everything in their power to make our jobs harder. They continue to mislead our customers, hiding behind words like “patient safety” or “proprietary information” when, in my opinion, it is all about money. When you think about how much they charge for parts and labor, it is clear that they only have their own interests at heart. It seems new angles and spins are created daily to prevent us from servicing equipment. As medical equipment evolves into PC-based systems, we are challenged on two fronts; the first is IT and security management at times impeding our ability to serve our customers and the OEMs charging for software licensing and maintenance fees without any fear of competition. These two issues alone require us to ensure we are part of every medical equipment purchase decision. Because without us our customer would not necessarily think (or remember) all that needs to be planned before cutting a purchase order.
I do feel that, as an industry, we continue to miss one important customer – the patient. We seem to be consumed with what we should call ourselves, or how to get respect, or questioning certification. I do not hear anyone talking about the patient care aspect of our business (unless you are asking them to stop performing safety inspections on a pulse oximeter, but that is a story for another day.) Nobody suggests that we must be stewards of safety and equipment performance so our most important customer is always served. I feel that if we focused more on the patient and on getting him/her the care they need in the safest and best possible manner, then our advocacy would not be ignored. I guess my disappointment is that in this game of winners and losers the patient ultimately is the loser and he/she isn’t even playing the game.
My challenge to all for 2019 is to rethink your position from the patient’s point of view. Try aligning your vision and values to include patient care and safety. Keep those values in mind and maybe collectively we can make our voices heard and through our actions take control of the industry and move it forward for our customers and for the patients. We must get out and do more than just fix stuff. It means learning and understanding your facility’s strategic plan and helping them understand how medical equipment decisions directly impact that plan. It means putting down the screwdriver and using analytical skills in a new way that benefits everyone. At the end of the day, your facility can hire anyone to just fix stuff, but having an in-house consultant at their beck and call will certainly improve your perceived worth.
Thank you all for your support this past year and have a wonderful new year!
Jim Fedele, CBET, is the director of clinical engineering for Susquehanna Health Systems in Williamsport, Pa. He can be reached for questions and/or comments via email at email@example.com.
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